Even though my site's no longer officially detailing CDs beyond FF13-2, Square Enix is still coming out with tons of releases focusing on music from previous games in the series. And, as I expected, I'm still collecting them, although not as quickly or eagerly as past releases. The site will eventually be updated with them, but the key word here is "eventually."
One thing SE recently released is the "Piano Opera Final Fantasy I/II/III." As much as I love piano music, SE has also released and re-released their piano collections so many times in some album or another that I started glazing over anything that had the word "piano" in it. So when I first heard about this album, I was very "eh, whatever" about it. It took me a few viewings (thanks to my email subscriptions to CD Japan and Amazon Japan that tell me of upcoming releases) to realize, "Hey wait a minute...there never HAVE been piano arrangements of FF1, 2, and 3 music!" I finally jumped on the CD after that.
So after various delays -- it came out on Feb. 29, nice release date, heh -- I finally have the album in hand and am listening to it. Of course I'm most familiar with the FF1 music because I've never played 2 or 3 (and probably never will, sadly, given my severe lack of time these days), and right now I'm getting a kick out of hearing the FF1 main theme (the overworld theme) played so energetically.
Overall, I think the arrangements are more robust and better performed than recent piano collections. I was rather disappointed in the light hand that was given to the FF8, 9 and 10 piano pieces that made them mostly unmemorable (and I like FF8 and 10!). But on this CD, songs like the Gurgu Volcano theme are performed with great energy, giving you a sense of the danger that you face in that dungeon. (Even given the relative slimness of the original volcano music, the piece that would REALLY impress me, if someone were to ever make one, is an arrangement of the Floating Castle theme. If you can make a good arrangement out of THAT, you have my respect. ^_~ ) Matoya's Cave includes an arpeggio that plays nearly constantly in the latter half that recalls the feeling of stepping into a good witch's cave.
The FF2 main theme adds tenderness and a little more upbeat feel to the song's usual somberness (I've always wondered about such a sad-sounding tune being the main theme of a game), while the FF1/2/3 battle medley and FF3's Last Battle get the same heart-pumping treatment as other piano-arranged fight songs. And although this really isn't dependent on the arrangement or performance, I'm impressed with FF3's Crystal Cave -- minus the Famicom's original screechy sounds, this song comes out a lot more beautiful (and less frightening) than I would have expected. Then again, given the proper care and instrumentation, any of the music from the Famicom games will sound good.
In short, I absolutely love this CD. It's about time Square Enix gave the piano treatment to the first three games, and it's very well done. You can get this album over at CD Japan or Play-Asia. Sheet music is also available from CD Japan or Play-Asia.